Word Magazine April 1963 Page 11
RELIGION AND SCIENCE
By John L. Boojamra
Can a scientist believe in God? This is a question which is often asked today. The scientist in Western culture and particularly in America is regarded with a certain amount of awe. We tend to ascribe to him and to his class the tremendous advances which science has initiated and carried through in every field of life. We picture him using equations and instruments, which he has formulated and designed, in the conquest of every media of nature — air, space, energy, and even life itself. Our culture is so thoroughly run through with science that, for many, a label “scientific” is regarded as a badge of the highest merit. On this basis it is not odd that the laymen should look upon the scientist as the “answer-man”.
Science represents the achievements, in most cases, of man over natural forces. These extensive accomplishments tend to give the impression that man is now all powerful and the controller of his destiny. He no longer needs God — science is his answer. Such an attitude is exemplified by the British philosopher Bertrand Russell when he writes, “Science can teach us . . . no longer to invent allies in the sky, but rather to look to our own efforts here below to make this world a fit place.” He continues, “There is probably no limit to what science can do in the way of increasing positive excellence.” (Russell, B., Why I Am Not A Christian, Simon and Schuster: (New York, pp. 22, 82.) It is furthermore often claimed that no human endeavor can be of any value unless it has a scientific foundation. The atheist or the person who rejects the existence of God searches for someone to support his formulation. This action is characteristic of any individual who, seizing upon a theory or concept, immediately looks for some outstanding personality to support his newly found philosophy. The atheist, therefore, looks to the scientist as the “new Man”, the “savior” of the world, to quell his pangs of indecision.
Of a person who holds the scientist thus, it may be said that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, leading a half-thinker to atheism, while a deeper study must bring him back to God. The atheist who bases his disbelief on science is well read in no science, but rather, from casual intercourse, has a general and vague idea of everything. We also find related to this question of science the sincere Christian who continually attempts to reconcile the Bible and his faith to each new scientific discovery and each new link in the chain of evolution. This type of action only serves to put the Christian and his faith constantly on the defensive and in general is a fruitless attempt to keep his faith “up-to-date” by establishing it on a scientific foundation. Such efforts are also aimed at keeping one’s faith justifiable to oneself and to others. It is likewise the assumption of an insecure faith that says, as America’s biblical fundamentalists say, religion and science are diametrically opposed.
The fact that man is a scientist has nothing to do with his faith in God. This is the point. Science cannot say that there is or there is not a God. No intelligent person would disbelieve in something simply on the negative basis that he could not prove that it exists. Physicists did not assume that the atom was composed of only protons and electrons, merely because a third particle had not yet been discovered. They simply said nothing about a third constituent. As C. S. Lewis poignantly points out in his Screwtape Letters (accounts of letters of instruction from a senior devil to a junior devil concerning means of destroying a Christian soul). “Above all, do not attempt to use science